From bustling Bangkok to wet Wageningen – the different lifestyles
There are 2 aspects of “studying abroad”; studying in classrooms and learning the new life out there. As an international student, you grew up in a different country so you may experience culture shock when you move overseas. Sometimes you feel like it’s not easy to change your lifestyle that you have been used to your whole life and adapt yourselves to an unfamiliar society. However, from my own experience, it can be really fun and challenging.
Bangkok is full of lights. Meanwhile, Wageningen is full of rains.
Students in Wageningen are from all around the world. Last year, I moved from Bangkok, Thailand to Wageningen, the Netherlands. There’re huge differences between these Thai capital city and Dutch countryside. Whereas Bangkok is one of the busiest city in the world, Wageningen is a very peaceful place. Bangkok is full of lights. Meanwhile, Wageningen is full of rains. Living in these two cities gives me an opportunity to learn about different cultures and lifestyles.
From street food to home kitchen
The first change in my lifestyle is my diet because Thai food and Dutch food are very different. Thai food is mainly rice alongside spicy dishes. Dutch food is mainly bread and cheese.
The big advantage of living in Bangkok is that you can find food everywhere. There are street food, night markets, diverse diners and restaurants that open from day to night. Whenever you feel hungry, you just have to walk out to the nearest street then 10 minutes later you will be satisfied.
Wageningen has no such thing, and Asian restaurants here are too expensive for me to visit often. In the past year, I’ve adapted myself by trying Dutch food. However, I often miss rice and spicy chili peppers. As “an army marches on its stomach” and so does the study, I realized I needed to learn cooking.
Left: Street market at night in Bangkok (Source). Right: My cuisine in Wageningen
The advantage of living in Wageningen is that soon or later you can become a good cook!
It’s been more than a year now since I left Bangkok. I still miss the street food sometimes, but the kitchen’s also become my favourite place here. Obviously, the advantage of living in Wageningen is that soon or later you can become a good cook!
From nightlife to nature
The second big change in my lifestyle is my evening spending. Living in Bangkok means that you can go shopping until 10 p.m. or enjoy in the nightlife until sunrise. A lot of places are open 24 hours. No matter ifyou are a party person or an introvert, there’s always something for you to do at night in Bangkok.
While Bangkok is known as a city that never sleeps, Wageningen town turns off the lights at 6 pm. It looked so lonely for me in the first month I arrived, and the quietness of the nights made me feel homesick. In fact, the student communities have various evening activities for you to join every week, from academic seminars to outdoor movie nights.
While Bangkok is known as a city that never sleeps, Wageningen town turns off the lights at 6 pm.
However, let’s accept that there are some days we want to escape from the campus after a long day study. That was when I found the botanical park and the Rhine where people can have a relaxing evening or exercising in the green areas. Some local canals are also good for chilling out. I love to visit them and feed the duck families. In Bangkok, you have to seek for nature, but in Wageningen you’re already surrounded by nature all around.
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Left: my nightlife in a nightlight in Bangkok. Right: my nightlife in Wageningen
In Bangkok, you have to seek for nature, but in Wageningen you’re already surrounded by nature all around.
From hot weather to cold rain
The temperature in Bangkok can range from 40 degrees in the hottest days to 10 degrees in the coldest days. The average temperature in the winter is 26 degrees which is totally high compared to the weather in Wageningen. No thick coat needed for living in this tropical city. In contrast, you can dress up like it’s the summer time all year.
Wageningen is completely different. Dutch weather is much colder and rainy and someday windy. It’s and not always predictable; one hour you’re under the blue clear sky planning to picnic in a park, then next hour it can turn grey. Waterproofed jacket is a part of Dutch fashion and can never be outdated (unless you want to dance in the rain). Dutch people always have something to say about their weather and some even say that Dutch people’s moods depend on the weather. Oh…that can be quite emotional!
In Bangkok, people will look for the shades to stay cool. Meanwhile in Wageningen, they go out for sunbathing in a luckily sunny day.
Even though sometimes the sky is not so pleasant, I think it’s not that bad. Actually it’s unique, just like the warm weather of Bangkok. You know you’re living in the Netherlands when you go to the university in the morning with a coat, gloves and a scarf, then go back home with only one T-shirt, cramming everything else in your bag. In Bangkok, people will look for the shades to stay cool. Meanwhile in Wageningen, they go out for sunbathing in a luckily sunny day. You can never see this “phenomenon” in Bangkok!
From sky train to bicycle
Obviously, biking is a typical Dutch lifestyle. There are many more bicycles than cars in Wageningen. The only public transport in Wageningen is by bus (and train from Ede-Wageningen). It might seems inconvenient at first if you come from a big city, but once you get used to biking, you will find yourself enjoying and feeling comfortable on your bike.
Bangkok, on the other hand, is so big that you may miss a morning class if you travel to a university by bike. No need to count the traffic jams and the very hot weather while cycling. If you ever arrived the class on time, you would still get soaked in sweat. Moreover, there is no bicycle lens to bike safely in Bangkok. Therefore, sky trains and undergrounds seems to be the best choice for Bangkokians.
Why would we need a sky train here when we can enjoy cycling?
This may make Wageningen sound very less modern compared to Bangkok. However, why would we need a sky train here in the middle of the Netherlands when we can enjoy cycling easily on the flat roads, under the tree canopies, and not-so-hot weather? The bike jams near the university in the rush hours are environmentally friendly when you compare to the traffic jams all around Bangkok. Biking is a free travelling and a healthy exercise. This is a good life.
From home to home away from home
Studying abroad is the new lesson itself. Changing the lifestyles is one of the tests you’re supposed to learn and pass. Once you are open-minded and comfortable to the new environment and culture, you will be happy and have a good fun experience. After all, you will feel like it’s home away from home.